Interiors: Creative spaces of north London artists
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Zita Whalley takes a peak at the studio spaces of three north London creatives to see how they have styled and use them.
Rebecca Harker, ceramist, Crouch End
Rebecca makes her hand-made clay wall hangings from her home studio, which she has had for the past two years since moving to Crouch End from Chiswick. Having a studio in her previous home as well, she appreciates the convenience of working where she lives.
“I looked at the Chocolate Factory and Turning Earth and other studio spaces when we came to the area, but working with clay, I like to go back and check on my work. I also have a kiln in the backyard shed, so I don’t have to share it with anyone and I can use it when I want. I also have three children - a nine-year-old and two eight-year-olds, so the home studio saves me time because I don’t have to travel.
My studio is just a spare room in the house. It’s not very big and it is completely utilitarian and functional, and it can get quite messy. I don’t have any sentimental objects in it, just a white IKEA desk under the window, with an IKEA bookshelf with glazes and boxes of stuff.
The walls are white and this is important to me so I can see what I am looking at. I use the wall to hang stuff on so I can look at it and can bang things in to it and then patch it up again. I don’t really think about the rest of the room.
I also have a lock on the door but it doesn’t work. Everyone just flicks it up and comes in. There’s a ‘do not disturb’ sign too, but that is completely ignored.
Before I start work, I meditate for at least 10 minutes to get rid of all the other stuff in my head and to turn the room into a workspace. I also light lemongrass or a candle.
I always wear these really ugly old desert boots which I would never wear out, but I can’t work if I don’t have them on. I also wear really ugly clothes that I would hate my friends to see me in – super ripped old things – but they are comfortable and let me muck in and not worry about getting messy.”
Rosalind Freeborn, paper collage artist, Muswell Hill
Rosalind makes lampshades out of paper collages, as well as picture collages. After years of her family being fed up with Rosalind making art on the kitchen table and the “chaos”, they agreed she turn her children’s playroom into a workspace.
“I’ve had my studio for nearly 20 years. It’s filled with so many materials – paper, books, magazines, printers and all the paraphernalia of creativity that you need.
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Anyone who comes into my room has basically entered my head. It’s filled with art books, picture books, cookbooks and novels, and every inch of wall is covered with artwork I’ve made over the years and some pieces have been there a long time. Looking at them is like going back in history because I am transported immediately to the moment I made it.
I have a lovely old solid pine table that my parents bought in the 70s, which I use for creative work and for running workshops. When I was young, I used to sit down every evening at it and now, when we could open the door, people would come to my studio and sit around it and make paper lamp shades. It’s nice that things can go through family and have a new use in a different environment.
I also have a desk from the 1950s which was my dad’s and the ubiquitous IKEA shelves with boxes stuffed with paper, paint, and bits and pieces. I’ve absorbed a lot of things and knick-knacks from my parent’s house too - pots that used to contain food in the past now contain pens and pencils and my things instead.
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I have two tea trollies and they are the most brilliant thing to have in the room. I can load them up with a printer and bits and pieces and trundle it to wherever I want it - to the easel for example.
No interior designer would create a space like this. It’s part gallery, part workshop, part statement. Because I generate so much work, the whole house has become a gallery, but it is very concentrated in this room. It’s what you would call a very dense hang.”
Ahuva Zeloof, sculptor, Hampstead
Since the start of the pandemic, sculptor Ahuva Zeloof has had to forgo her studio space she shares with several other sculptors near her Hampstead home and make her home studio her main workspace.
“Since lockdown, I have been using my garden for stone carving because you need the ventilation – working with dust is a health hazard.
But it’s too cold to be outside now, so I have a studio space in my house where I do my armatures [the framework which a sculpture is built on] and drawings. I’m working on a series of yoga movements and I’m up to number eight in a series of 10.
I love my studio. I feel like I’m being hugged by its aura. It is comfortable and warm, because I can’t stand the cold and I’m not creative unless I am comfortable and warm.
I haven’t really styled it, but there are quite a few photos, and lots of unfinished pieces and finished pieces I’m not doing anything with. There’s books and magazines and some pictures on the wall.
I am free to move about the room so I can see what I’m working on from all angles. I have a table which is built for my height and a chair that goes up and down, but I don’t usually use it. I also have plenty of light, which is important.
The lockdowns have changed how I work. I improvise and I try to do the most I can do in the space that I have. I’m happy that I can be quite versatile. I used to work in a studio space not far from where I live, which I shared with friends. Now, nobody is looking at my work or offering their opinion on it while I am making it. My sculptures are all mine and I’ve gotten a lot of confidence from that. It is kind of like giving birth to something.
This lockdown has been different to the first as well. This time you know it’s not going to end soon, so I’m taking my time in order to really feel the work that I’m doing, and not rushing it. It’s given me a chance to be a bit more creative, and it’s actually quite nice, I see something and if it’s not correct, I can fix it up."